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Old 01-05-2013, 02:38 PM   #5
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I wouldn't keep it in a low gear all the time. Try to keep your RPMs as low as possible while doing anything in a low traction situation. Let me try to explain a little bit that will hopefully shine some light on suggested driving during poor conditions.

The coefficient of friction on snow is usually between 0.3 - 0.6. This is much lower than the coefficient of friction on dry asphalt, which is usually about 0.9. Every action you take in a FWD car 'uses' some available friction from your front tires on the surface you're driving on. That means that if you're turning WHILE braking or accelerating, you have a greater chance of losing traction. Because you're in a FWD car, all force from the engine will also be on your turning wheels. Using the brakes instead of your engine will put ~70% of the stopping force on your front tires, and ~30% on your rears. Your hand brake will be 100% braking from the rear tires.

So to get back to driving on snow, if you're driving in 2nd gear at 25 mph on snow, you're probably around 3k rpms. If you try to make a turn and you let off the gas to do it, you're going to cause the engine to slow the front tires. This uses some of your 'available' friction. Begin turning, and it'll use more. Try to turn too hard, and you're gonna slip.

The best method for driving where traction is an issue is to reduce the overall forces on your tires. Don't turn sharply, don't accelerate/decelerate quickly, and take your time getting places. Oh, and look out for the idiots who will slide right out in front of you because they were going to fast.

Also, don't try to stop using the hand brake. It's much different from using the pedal, and you can easily lock up your rear wheels.
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